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Hometown Hero Helps T2 Down Defending Champions

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T2 respond immediately and come from behind to defeat the defending champions Sacramento Republic behind Steven Evans game winner.

Jeremiah Braeback

Let's start this off with this tweet from our own Chris Rifer:

Chris states it perfectly. If you aren't going to T2 games, you're missing out. It is unbelievable fun. And the winning certainly helps too. Your next opportunity will be Sunday May 3rd at Providence Park.

Now, for the game. There really isn't much more to say beyond Steven Evans game winning strike in the 87th minute. Evans had come on as a sub in the 78th minute and at center forward to replace Winchester who had taken a number of knocks throughout the match. In the 87th minute a Sacramento defender cuts out the ball headed towards Fatawu from the left but slips and doesn't get any power to the clearance. The ball rolls 5 yards out right to Evans, just outside the top of the box, who was already preparing for this possibility and preparing a shot. His first time touch was a rocket into the upper right corner of the net that the Sacramento keeper had no chance on. End result: Joyous Hysteria had by all.

There were three changes from the first match on Sunday evening. Jake Gleeson returned from injury and replaced Justin Luthy in goal. Tim Payne and Harrison Delbridge both got their first starts replacing Fatawu Safiu and Anthony Manning respectively. Outside of that the lineup was the same from Sunday evening. However, on Sunday it played very much a 4-2-3-1. But tonight it tended to be more like a 4-3-3 with captain Blair Gavin playing more advanced ahead of Tim Payne and Nick Besler. (Also of importance: T2 had Stand Together on the front of their jerseys. Great choice on the sponsor!)

The match started off like all T2 matches should with Kharlton Belmar being very, very fast. Most of the first half was pretty even. Sacramento saw their share of time on the ball but usually weren't able to make much of it in their attacking third. And when T2 got the ball they attacked with speed. Unadulterated speed. In the 12th minute there was a foul on Belmar in the center circle that didn't result in a card but looked like the arching pass was definitely going to find empty space behind Sacramento's defense and Belmar was primed to beat anyone to it, go back to the center, and beat them to it again.

Sacramento got their first yellow card of the match in the 34th minute when Derek Foran slammed into Rundell Winchester when he went up to contest a header. Rundell required a trainer to look at him but he was able to return. The resulting FK from Gavin reached Rennico Clarke but he put his header a little wide left of the goal. Second best chance for T2 in the first half. After this Sacramento really began to dominate possession and see a lot more of the ball. Again, nothing came of it. But the half wouldn't end that way. The best chance for T2 in the first came in the 43rd minute. Rundell Winchester sliced a perfect through ball past Sacramento's defense and into open space that Tschillo Schuma beat the keeper to and while his shot got past the keeper on his one-on-one his shot went only inches wide on the left again. And one minute after that another pass almost made it to Belmar who would've easily been into empty space and in on the keeper all alone. But the teams went into the half knotted up at zero.

Coming out after the half Sacramento really pushed to open the scoring. However Jake Gleeson made his best save of the night coming out of the locker rooms. Sacramento forward Cameron Iwasa got behind the defense and one-on-one with Gleeson. Gleeson saw he was about to chip it over him and got his hand up just in time to knock the ball down and away from Iwasa. And Gleeson was able to scramble and recover the ball before any Sacramento player could get to it.

In the 55th minute T2 showed their speed again with both Schuma and Belmar pressuring the heck out of the Sacramento backline and gaining possession of the ball to create a chance out of nothing. Unfortunately Winchester could not get his head to the ball when it came to him.

And in the 61st minute the deadlock was finally broken with Sacramento's Octavio Guzman sending a pass towards Sacramento substitution Joaguin Rivas, who only entered the match about 60 seconds earlier. Rivas dribbled towards the T2 centerbacks who collapsed onto his position. Rivas won the three man battle and tipped his ball a few yards to his right where Cameron Iwasa found it and put it in the back of the net from 18 yards out.

But T2 would not go quietly into that good night. 1 minute and 34 seconds later, they equalized. And it was none other than Kharlton Belmar who netted his third goal in two games for T2. Delbridge made a run into the center circle and then released a pass out to an advanced Taylor Peay who took one touch and then sent a beautiful cross through the box that Belmar slid and one touch finished it into the back of the net.

And it was after this that I lost track of what I was doing and stopped taking notes. The rest of the second half was immensely entertaining. After equalizing T2 brought in three subs who were very effective in their time on the pitch. First was Fatawu who came on Belmar in the 72nd minute and immediately increased the number of backheel passes being performed by players on the field. Followed by Steven Evans for WInchester in the 78th minute and Matt Rose in the 86th minute to help lock things down.

You could feel there was one more goal in the match but you didn't know which side might capitalize and pick up the winner. T2 certainly weren't going to sit at home and accept a 1-1 draw. Right after Matt Rose entered the game T2 were controlling the ball and not allowing Sacramento to break out of their half. The ball found its way out left to Andy Thoma who played a 1-2 with Matt Rose out left and then burst forward with speed and ended up cutting past 3 Sacramento players to get a low driven ball across the top of the box about 15 yards out trying to reach Fatawu on the right side of the box. But a Sacramento player was there to cut out the pass. His momentum in reaching the ball did not provide him with the best footing and he slipped and fell when he tried to clear the ball. It rolled about 5 yards to just outside the top of the box where Steven Evans, who had been tracking the ball and play the entire time, was prepared for the ball to come to him and ready to strike. And strike he did. He reached the ball and put his laces through it and slammed that ball right into the top right corner of the net. Sacramento's keeper had no chance.

And in the dwindling minutes of the match half chances were had but really came to nothing. Ref blew his whistle and T2 won their second game of the season defeating the defending USL champions 2-1. Steven Evans with the game winner on his college pitch and in his hometown. What. A. Goal.

With taking all 6 points from their opening two game home stand, T2 now hit the road for a 4 game road trip. Traveling to such exotic locales like Salt Lake City, Seattle, Sacramento, and Scottsdale, Arizona before returning to Portland on Sunday, May 3rd.

I must end with another tweet from Chris Rifer. Who makes a very valid point. Someone needs to teach Kharlton Belmar "the Carlton" and he needs to have that as his go to goal celebration. You can't have a goal scorer named Kharlton who doesn't employ this as a goal celebration.

Top Three Performers

Steven Evans: You don't score a stunner like that, in your town, on your college field, and have it be the game winner after coming on as a substitute and not make this list.

Kharlton Belmar: Scored the equalizer 1 minute after Sacramento broke through. Belmar is crazy fast. Can't say that enough. I strongly suspect that Belmar will find his place on my Top 3 lists far more often than not.

Taylor Peay: I could include Thoma for sure but Taylor Peay was an absolute beast. His cross to Belmar for the equalizer was a thing of beauty. And he was dominant in his play all up and down the right side of the pitch.

Post Game Interviews

Jay Vidovich

Jake Gleeson

Steven Evans